Having actually READ the rules now . . . some caveats

Okay, I did read the rules earlier (for the First Chapters Contest, which is kind of misleading because you do have to send your full manuscript to prove that there IS one, for one thing, and to let them verify that it’s not just “ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A PSYCHOBOY” typed over and over for 350 pages), but I missed the tiny TINY details that . . .

Canadians can’t enter because it’s “USA residents only.” What?! You mean Canada isn’t part of Texas? And to think I sent the announcement to a writing list with several Vancouver residents on it, telling them that they should enter. *facepalm* (btw: Spy coins: clever!)

“All Submissions must be in English. Submissions must not violate copyright. . . .”

*duh* I thought I’d send my Sanskrit manuscript that I plagiarized from a scroll. *grin*

>You must be 18 or older as of January 11, 2007

*sigh* Must admit that I am over 18 . . .I want a do-over!

And here’s an interesting bit from the extended rules. “Sponsor reserves the right to request that semifinalists and finalists engage in . . . author interviews, blog posts, recorded readings, live chats with members, and/or video posts.” I’ll go you one better.

“Why, yes, I have been writing since I could grip the crayon, Mr. King (or may I call you “Larry”?), and since 1996 I’ve been getting complimentary and encouraging rejection letters. I can’t count the times I ‘almost’ made it. I’m living proof that a dried-up old prune loser who can’t hold a job can fulfill her lifelong dream and what she always thought would be her destiny. Also, I wanted to be on your show so everyone could see my new tattoo of Bobby Darin on my–”

*signal suddenly goes to snow/static*


ANNOUNCEMENT: Simon and Schuster Novel Contest

My fellow unwashed (and washed) unpublished novelists: there’s a new Simon and Schuster contest happening whose winner gets a contract and LOTS of promotion! Is it a dream come true, or a pipe dream? Read the rules (follow the link) and decide for yourself.

{{FURTHER EDIT: Here’s the New York Times article explaining how very *sigh* this all is, that publishing is ready to pander to the “American Idol” club in order to get people to read books. I understand what the fellow is saying and I agree, but hey, I don’t care at this point–I don’t want to die without publishing a book with a “real” New York house, and I truly believe that I can engage readers and interest them. I can’t get to the readers because the agents are an obstacle, since they DON’T BELIEVE IN MY WORK and say “No” all the time. If this is what it takes to get to the readers, so be it. (As Harry Hard-On says in “Pump Up the Volume,” one of my Pirate Radio idol films.) As for having to sign the contract unagented, bring it on! I only wish that were my worst problem! Believe me, the contest winner will have the publicity and push that it takes to move units (as they say), so if the book doesn’t suck, it’ll be a success and will launch that person’s career. Doesn’t matter so much about the contract–it’s the trade-off, and I haven’t been in this for the money but for my crazy obsession all along, so. But others might take note of the potential problem of having to sign the boilerplate contract with no negotiation. Move your unit!}}

I suspect they’re going to get far more than 200 entries. But will those entries be great? I can’t say. What’ll end up happening? Could it be like “American Idol” and become mostly a “who we liked” contest? Hmm.

Just like “American Title” run by Dorchester, this is going to be partially a popularity contest, like running for Student Council in junior high. They’re going to let people vote–over the ‘net–and you know what that’s going to lead to. And I don’t have a clique who’ll mindlessly follow me and vote for my stuff: I’m not a politician, and I’m not a good people-collector (mostly interacting with others over commonly held interests, not in a politico’s outgoing charismatic way), and most of the people I know who’ll even be aware of this thing have minds of your own and will choose something you like for your own reasons (which is good!) Young people whose friends are all lifelong online types are at an advantage here. If you’re in college or just out of college, most of your contemporaries and peers are used to voting everyone in and out of everything and being online all the time. Someone’s circle of acquaintances (everyone they influence) could all agree to “go vote for Joe” for solidarity’s sake and wouldn’t think twice about not even reading the entries first (IMHO). So there’s definitely potential for this to be skewed and biased and all that hogwash.

Still, I’m a sucker. Should I enter? (You already figured I would.)

I tell you what–I still think _Little Rituals_ has commercial potential. Dennis Havens’ daughter Lonie read it for me not too long ago, and her concerns started about three-quarters through the book (as I understand it). She thought the characters wimped out, and that Daphne’s redemption quest thingie should not be to save the kid underwater at all, but to find out what happened to Snow and help her. Once I heard this, the noggin began percolating, and I came up with a different ending. (Shades of “Wayne’s World” again! *grin*) The more I thought about that, the better I liked it, and several scenes came to mind as I outlined the new ending. I think I could rework and rewrite the ending with those new ideas. The reason I haven’t done it is that I’ve been terribly discouraged by the way the book has come across so far, and I wanted to spend my limited writing time on something that could actually make good. I’m currently working on ALL THAT OTHER STUFF, but maybe I could just stop cleaning house entirely and work on all of it at once. Whee!

I mean, if I understood Lonie correctly, the book held her interest until everyone began to “wimp out,” which I believe she said happened at least at the halfway point, if not a bit later. Revision like that doesn’t take as long as making up a whole new story, so I could probably have this ready by the March deadline. (Can I still meet the July deadline for the new mystery if I do this? I believe so.)

I can’t think of another of my books that has a polished first three chapters with the potential to get voted on. Well, okay, some people connect with Camille, but that book is already in the Delacorte contest, and the rules here specifically state that your submission can’t be under consideration elsewhere. So that fits LR.

Since the book needs to be complete and must grab the editorial board before it can have a chance of getting posted in the first place, I can’t use the TalkingHeadShow novel or the new mystery.

There might be more potential in this with another novel, but I probably don’t have that novel finished or even thought of. Those Snarklings who got a “BINGO” in the last Crapometer ought to enter. That would be fun.

Anyone else up for entering this? We’d be in competition then, but what else is new . . . it might be a Learning Experience. (Please, Lord, not another Learning Experience!)

[[EDIT:: I’ve decided to take this seriously, partly because so MANY agents/editors and regular readers have loved the opening three chapters of _Little Rituals_, and most agents who asked for the partial based on the query requested the full manuscript. From what I get out of the rules, the contest people will not evaluate your full manuscript for quality before accepting it and posting those opening three chapters; they’re going to just skim them and see if they qualify as “commercial,” and see if they’re to be taken seriously (format, spelling/mechanics, etc.). Therefore, I could send _Little Rituals_ without doing the mods to the ending and could STILL fix the ending if I happened to win (ahem). The ONLY part seen by the voters/editorial board and judges is that opening–first three chapters.

That said, is there ANYONE who would like to take on the burden of reading over my first three chapters (possibly AGAIN) so I can polish/edit a bit before hoisting this on board and throwing her into the drink to sink or swim? (Metaphors mixed at no extra charge.)

Or if you read the rules and disagree with me–think that they’re going to evaluate more than the opening in order to post your first three chapters–please correct me here.

In case you aren’t sure . . . yes, this is a CALL FOR HELP!!

No, I’m not going into this with unrealistic expectations. Okay, I lied. Yes, I am!! But that’s me. As I mentioned to Dennis, when he sent me a trick-test e-mail that had you list song titles and so forth on a separate page and then told you what they meant psychologically, the one that supposedly “explained my mind and outlook on life” was “I’m a Believer.” *sigh* Made that way. Factory warranty included. Do not expose to open ridicule.]]

What Is The Sound Of One Keyboard Typing? Clickety-clack

I thought it might be fun (bwa-ha-ha) to post the opening of my “Novel in 90 Days” book. I’m working on it at the same time that I’m working on the Talking Head novel, but because it’s a mystery, it may have a better chance of selling or of winning a contest. It surprised me by becoming an Ari book and turning into Book One of her series. That will let me take a lot of backstory and explanation out of the existing _Ariadne’s Web_, which will become Book Two of that series. It might work.

I considered having a more grabby opening for this one, but right now I think it’s more fun to sneak up on the reader.

Chapter One

(Let’s put this under an LJ cut.)

Continue reading “What Is The Sound Of One Keyboard Typing? Clickety-clack”

Status report–skippable

Here’s a status report of sorts. I have a few manuscripts that are still with contests/editors.

Did I ever mention that I mailed _Camille’s Travels_ to the Delacorte Young Adult Novel Contest? Well, I sent it off. I was feeling kind of optimistic, too, as they’ve published edgy fiction in the past. And it goes without saying that this contest win has launched a number of careers. Then I went and messed with those ol’ Devil cards . . . I got a free reading offer from Tarot.com and went over there to ask whether my book would win the contest.

Advice: Don’t mess with the Devil cards.

Actually, the online readings can’t possibly have that much validity . . . surely not? **sigh** That reading was full of the swords-through-the-heart card and mentions of “tragic loss” and “picking up pieces.” I can only hope that it’s WRONG, just like all those readings last year from the other Tarot sites were when they claimed to be looking all optimistic at my getting an agent and so forth. *ptui*


I also sent off _Miranda’s Rights_ to yet another /v/i/c/t/i/m/ editor at Tor. A new fellow who hadn’t gotten a copy already to lose under the huge stacks of slush. He hasn’t sent me a lovenote yet, so there may be hope. One never knows.

(Several agents cleaned off their desks and rejected me by e-mail right there at year’s end. I’m talking about Dec. 23rd and Dec. 29th! They were cuttin’ it close for a clean sweep.)

Of course my mystery is at the St. Martin’s/Malice Domestic First Traditional Mystery contest. Don’t know if it’ll be a finalist or not this year. I despair of that one, though, because editor Ruth Cavin must’ve seen my book last year and picked someone else’s instead. So maybe she just didn’t like my style. You don’t ALL have to like my style. However, the contest win has kicked off many a career, yadda yadda. It’d be nice.

There’s another mystery contest being invented, though, and I might send off a book to that one if it solidifies. For that contest, your setting must be the Southwest. Okay, but my setting isn’t that kind of character. They’re thinking of something like Judith Van Gieson’s series that’s set in New Mexico. Now, THOSE books gave me a sense of pueblos and pottery. And they had talking parrots, a Mexican mechanic, bikers, and a woman sleuth name of Neil. How perfect they are. Still, I might rework _Ariadne_ to be more Southwestern-set. Her story is a lot more sedate and serious than the Sleuth Sisters series books. That might be a way to improve that novel. Put that one in the percolator.

And let’s see . . . is there anything else . . . you already know about the Steeple Hill Inspirational editor who’s looking at the first three chapters of the Paige novel and who could ask for the balance of it anytime if I win that category in the contest. That book wasn’t such a bad book after all, once I restored the setting to Dallas and tried to take out the stuff I put in when I “revised” it so many years ago for that particular editor. But it’s still only in a contest and therefore a crapshoot.

I’m still trying to figure out whether there’s an essay contest out there for personal essays/experiences. I must have seen that one in a newsletter.

Can’t think of anything else I still have out there. I suppose that’s it.

I joined , where we commit to doing a wimpy three pages a day *wink*. Hell, if I did three PERFECT pages a day, that would mean sumpin’, but because I have to go back over ’em most o’ the time, I don’t know how much that means. However, here’s how *I* work: I sit down and do an entire scene, or copy down the filmstrip that’s been running while I was doing other stuff, or freewrite, or outline, or note down random scraps, or go finish what I was last writing on. That usually makes about five to ten pages of scrip. By that time, somebody’s yelling for me to come into the other room, or the phone is for me (and Mama has answered and told them I’ll be right there, because OF COURSE I am ONLY Playing On That Damn Computer, not doing something important), or there’s a loud crash nearby. That’s my Visitor from Porlock. I do eventually get back to writing, but sometimes not on the same day.

I should get up two hours earlier than anyone else. Wait, I already DO that, but it makes me sleepy in the middle of the afternoon. And I typically start by checking e-mail and taking a gander at LiveJournal and other sites I read, which means I fritter away that time instead of using it to write. I think from now on I’m going to just use it to write.

That might be good. I don’t know what good it’ll do to finish this Talking Head Show novel, but it’s there, and it’s coming out. So we’ll give it a chance.

In other news, I watched Spencer Tracy in “Inherit the Wind” again today, and all I can say is that Spencer Tracy defined “a nuanced performance.” I can’t think of many actors today who DO that, except maybe DeNiro. The final fifteen minutes or so of that film contains a truly nuanced performance on Spence’s part. I mean . . . he lets you know that both sides are right, and that nobody knows anything, and that a good debater can argue either side of a question, and that a good man can be misguided, and that whole “who am I to judge” thing. *blown away*

Then after we got back from a WallyWorld run, I watched “Wayne’s World” and got over all seriousness. (I still love that “Laverne and Shirley” bit. When we saw that movie in the theater, it was with a British friend, and he just absolutely did NOT get why I was quoting “Schlemiel, schlimazel, hassenpfeff, inc.!” and falling into the aisle. How can someone not have watched “Laverne and Shirley” re-runs every day after school? Well, that’s my mindset for you. *wink*)

Let’s do the Scooby-Doo ending. “I would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”


Why did you keep reading?

Let’s try a different tack to elicit some interesting responses to dump into my percolator.

What is the book that you come back to all the time . . . the one you re-read . . . the one you say is among your favorites? Is there one? Are there two? If they’re children’s books, when did you first read the book? If it’s a newish release, how did you come across it?

Okay . . . those were the easy questions. Why do you re-read the book? You already know the plot. Is it the style? The characters? I re-read because I love the writing and the quotable lines and the situations, I think. But not always. Just wondering.

Because if I’m going to spend all this time writing a book or books, I’d like it to have a chance at being one of the books that people come back to and re-read at least once. What’s the use of the “disposable” book that gets thrown away or tossed at the Used Book Store sack as soon as you finish it?

Of course, you can’t keep them all. I will have to do some weeding of my library soon, because we just don’t have the room to keep it all. I was keeping a number of high fantasy titles because hubby wanted me to write one like them, but that’s not going to happen (at least not soon), so I’m going to pass them along. However, there are a few that I’ll keep in that genre. Similarly, I’m going to pass along a number of mysteries to my aunt and her neighbor because I’ve already studied them and think I’ve gotten the idea (they were partly for fun, partly for research). But, again, I’ll keep the Anne George and the Carole Berry titles.

Which books do you hang on to and re-read?

Essay contest . . . fifteen pages . . . but where WAS that?

I know I read about an essay contest of some stripe, one accepting up to fifteen pages of personal essay after the first of this year. I have that “Zap Palace” essay, and I thought, “I might send that.” But now I’ve lost the info about the contest. Does anyone know of one, or remember the mention of one? I can’t even recall if it was a writers’ conference or a magazine or what.


Happy New Year 2007

Hoping it’ll turn out to be the best one ever.

It’d better. It’s the only one we’ve got, and we’re stuck with it–and it with us!

No resolutions, though my mother has mouthed off about a hundred that I “MUST” make. *GRIN* I think I’d rather wait for Chinese New Year and re-evaluate then.

Sent the requested book off to the contest via e-mail. It was the RWA-sponsored contest that wanted entries e-mailed by January 2nd, so I got right down to the wire. Don’t know what’ll happen with that one, but it’s an inspirational, so we’ll see.

I’m going to get back to the Spy/Talking Head Pundit Show book tomorrow, after doing all the washing and packing up some stuff for charity. That’s the book I want to work on. Undecided about ever marketing it, but going to work on it anyway, just to spite everything.

And now, night-night.